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The Top Ten Replica Courses

Golf course architect Charles Blair Macdonald probably didn't think of himself as a trendsetter when he designed the National Golf Links of America on Long Island in 1911. After spending several years studying great British courses, Macdonald designed the National as an homage to the links style in general and even to specific great holes, such as Prestwick's Alps and St. Andrews's Road Hole. Nearly a century after this first great American golf course was built, copycat courses have become hot. Most recent designs take two forms: They either include "replicas," which are direct copies of famous golf holes, or constitute so-called "inspired-by" venues that re-create the style of a particular course or designer. Here are ten that inspired us.

1. RLR Golden Ocala Golf and Country Club, Ocala, FL Architect: Ron Garl, 1986. Yardage/Slope: 6,906/NA. Green Fees: $35­$90. Tee Times: 352-629-6229. Currently undergoing extensive renovations, the course will reopen January 1, 2002. Eight well-executed replica holes (including St. Andrews's first and seventeenth, Augusta's twelfth and thirteenth, and Baltusrol's fourth) and ten original holes make for a varied mix without ever seeming contrived. The course is smartly designed through rolling pine country in central Florida.

2. The New Course at Grand Cypress, Orlando, FL Architect: Jack Nicklaus, 1988. Yardage/Slope: 6,773/122. Green Fees: $115­$225. Tee Times: 407-239-1909. Twelve-foot-deep sod-wall pot bunkers, seven double greens, stone walls, a snaking burn and . . . grapefruit trees?Jack's tribute is inspired by the Old Course. It's a great layout in its own right, and the occasions when these superwide fairways recall Scotland are an added bonus.

3. The Tradition Course at Cypresswood Golf Club, Spring, TX Architect: Keith Foster, 1998. Yardage/Slope: 7,220/134. Green Fee: $75. Tee Times: 281-821-6300. Foster's retro-style course is a strike against modern techno architecture. It incorporates Donald Ross links-style bunkers and such risk-reward elements as pins tucked behind a pond fronted with a stone wall. Golfers may recognize Carnoustie's Spectacles bunkers on the 236-yard eleventh. The layout's clean lines and well-manicured feel make you forget its inspired-by status.

4. Boyne Highlands Resort, Donald Ross Memorial Course, Harbor Springs, MI Architects: Bill Newcomb and Jim Flick, 1985. Yardage/Slope: 6,814/136. Green Fees: $49­$129. Tee Times: 800-462-6963. Imitates seventeen of the best holes among Ross's more than 500 designs, including ones from such private clubs as Seminole (the 498-yard fifteenth) and Inverness (the 354-yard eighteenth), plus one hole from Royal Dornoch, the course that most influenced Donald Ross. Good execution, though some holes lack the natural features (elevation changes, palm trees) of the originals.

5. Tour 18 Houston, Humble, TX Architects: Dave Edsall with Dennis Wilkerson, 1992. Yardage/Slope: 6,782/129. Green Fees: $48­$95. Tee Times: 800-856-8687. This original replica venue was the first to attempt exact duplicates of eighteen famous American golf holes, including ones from Harbour Town and Pebble Beach. The replicas are based on aerial photographs of the originals and are very convincing--so much so that several courses sued Tour 18 for infringement. As a result, it was forced to remove the lighthouse from the Harbour Town hole and offer a disclaimer that the courses whose holes were copied did not give permission. It's Disneyesque and eminently fun--especially the three Augusta holes, complete with azaleas, dogwoods and a scoreboard with Tiger's name at the top.

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